UK Government Report

Description of Sector

The UK has been a member of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) since joining the European Common Market in 1973. On 29 March 2017 the Prime Minister notified the European Commission that the UK would be leaving the European Union and consequently the Euratom Community. The Euratom Treaty, which covers civil nuclear only, has a number of elements which include nuclear research and training, the provision of nuclear safeguards inspection and assurance, the Euratom Supply Agency, free movement of nuclear goods and nuclear workers, nuclear health and safety, and nuclear agreements with third countries.

The Euratom regulatory regime exists inside a wider international framework under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN body. In common with other EU Member States, the UK’s agreements with the IAEA are currently delivered through its membership of Euratom. On leaving the EU, and whatever the nature of the UK’s future relationship with Euratom, the UK will continue to be a member of the IAEA and comply with all its international obligations.

In some areas, the Euratom Treaty goes beyond the IAEA standards, for example in respect of its safeguards regime and the role of the Euratom Supply Agency. Various international agreements, in addition to the agreement with the IAEA, are also currentlydelivered by virtue of the UK’s membership of Euratom.

The current EU regulatory regime

Main sector-specific rules governing the provision of activity in the EU

The most important European instrument affecting the UK nuclear sector is the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), and in particular the elements of the Euratom Treaty which:
• establish a Common Market for nuclear materials and equipment within the Euratom Community;
• establish a nuclear safeguards regime within the Euratom Community to confirm that states are not diverting nuclear material or technology from civil programmes into non-peaceful uses;
• establish a framework for nuclear safety and the safe and responsible management of radioactive waste;
• create a system that governs the shipment of radioactive waste across the borders of EU Member States; and
• Allow for third party co-operation agreements between Euratom and countries outside the EU.

Other European Union rules or systems directly relevant to the UK nuclear sector include:
• The 1985 EU Declaration of Common Policy (“Dublin Declaration”), simplifying export control (licensing) arrangements on the export and import of nuclear material, equipment and technology with EU states; and
• Council Directive 2008/68/EC27 on the inland transport of dangerous goods byroad and rail.

The Euratom Treaty establishes a Community for a common approach on civil nuclear and radioactive waste management. All Euratom Member States are EU Member States, and vice versa. The UK became a Member of the Euratom Community at the same time as joining the European Union in 1973. The purpose of Euratom is the promotion of civil nuclear uses of atomic energy. It covers civil nuclear and radioactive waste management issues only – it does not cover military/defence uses of nuclear technology.

In the UK, the Euratom Treaty is given effect by a very wide range of legislation and administrative arrangements including the Nuclear Installations Act 196528, the Health and Safety at Work, etc, Act 197429, the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010, the Energy Act 201331 and secondary legislation made under these statutes. The majority of the Euratom obligations have either been implemented using domesticlegislation or are directly applicable as Euratom Regulations.

Broad areas covered by the Euratom Treaty

Common Market / Cooperation agreements

The UK is party to a number of existing nuclear co-operation agreements, some of which are between Euratom and a third country and some of which are bilateral between the UK and a third country, the latter being permissible under Euratom rules provided they have been declared to Euratom in advance. Euratom currently has eight NCAs with third countries. The UK Government has made clear its intention to have new legally binding agreements in place with third countries that require them as a condition of nuclear trade (USA, Japan, Canada, Australia) in anticipation of the UK no longer being party to the
Euratom agreements with those countries. Other new NCAs are also being explored but are not a requirement for continuity of trading.

Both the Euratom common market and NCAs, as well as the 1985 EU Declaration of Common Policy (“Dublin Declaration”), simplify export control (licensing) arrangements on the export and import of nuclear material, equipment and technology with EU Member States and those countries with which Euratom has NCAs (It should be noted that even where an NCA exists export control rules apply, although processes may be simplified).

Additionally, Euratom establishes the Euratom Supply Agency (ESA), which is intended to ensure a regular supply of nuclear materials to Euratom Member States and facilitate materials transfer arrangements (to date no Member State has had the need to use the ESA to supply nuclear material).


Euratom establishes measures to confirm that states are not diverting nuclear material or technology from civil programmes into non-peaceful uses – Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 302/2005 of 8 February 2005 on the application of Euratom safeguards establishes reporting requirements, while Articles 81/82 of the Euratom Treaty specify Commission inspections to verify safeguards information and reporting.

Euratom safeguards provisions obliges users to keep accurate records and make declarations on civil nuclear material and programmes to the European Commission.The Commission verifies these declarations and performs inspections.

Failure to comply with Euratom safeguards requirements can, and has led to, Commission sanction and/or infraction proceedings under the Treaty. The UK, during its membership of Euratom, has not been subject to such sanctions or infractionproceedings by the Commission.

Nuclear safety / radioactive waste management

There are several Euratom Directives and Regulations that establish a framework for nuclear safety and the safe and responsible management of radioactive waste. These include:

• Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations as amended by 2014/87/EURATOM of 8 July 2014 amending Directive;
• Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM of 19 July 2011 establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste;
• Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom of 5 December 2013 on the protection against the harmful effects of ionising radiation (‘the Basic Safety Standards Directive’).

This Directive, among other things, specifies requirements for nuclear emergency preparedness and response arrangements in Members;
• Regulation 300/2007/Euratom: Council Regulation of 19 February 2007 establishing an Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (It facilitates the Euratom Community financing of measures to support the promotion of a high level of nuclear safety, radiation protection and the application of efficient and effective safeguards of nuclear material in third countries).

The Euratom Treaty also places specific obligations on the UK in relation to nuclear safety and radioactive waste management including reporting. While compliance with this reporting does not require transposition into domestic legislation (instead compliance is achieved through administrative arrangements) failure to report as required can result in infraction proceedings. The main reporting requirements are:
• Article 37 – the provision of general data on proposal to dispose of radioactive materials;
• Article 35/36 the reporting and verification of monitoring arrangement; and
• Article 41 – the communication to the Commission of information on investment projects relating to new installations and major projects.


Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel creates a system that governs the shipment of radioactive waste across the borders of EU Member States.

Main cross-sectoral rules, technical requirements and frameworks

In addition to the nuclear/radioactive waste specific legislation listed above, this sector is subject to health and safety legislation (at the EU level the Health and Safety Framework Directive, the Workplace Directive, Manual Handling Directive, etc) which has been implemented through domestic legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work, etc, Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999. This generalhealth and safety legislation applies to all work activities in the UK so is not specific to the nuclear/radioactive waste management sector.

The Euratom Treaty has specific provisions on the movement of workers and for the free movement of capital for investment in the field of nuclear energy.

Rules affecting current trade between the UK and non-EU countries

Within the Euratom Community/EU there is a tariff-free common market in nuclear materials and equipment. From an export control and licensing perspective, the global import and export of nuclear materials, equipment and technology is covered by Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which the UK is a full member. The 1985 EU Declaration of Common Policy (“Dublin Declaration”) established simplified arrangements for the export control of nuclear material, equipment and technology.

The Euratom Community has in place a range of Nuclear Cooperation Agreements (NCAs) with States outside of the EU. These agreements apply to the Euratom Community as a whole and also to individual Member States and allow the trade and movement of materials, equipment and technology. Without coverage by such agreements the UK would need to negotiate individual NCAs with each state which require such an agreement. The UK itself does not require NCAs to be in place, but some countries have legal or political requirements which make such agreements necessary. For the majority of countries, Government to Government Assurances are sought in support of export licence applications, as is current practice.

Transfers of nuclear material within the Euratom Community and with third countries are subject to Euratom Safeguards arrangements (as well as IAEA safeguards requirements that are in large part complied with through the UK’s membership of Euratom).

Devolved areas of responsibility and impacts on Gibraltar, the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories

Civil nuclear is generally a reserved matter, with the exception of certain aspects of radioactive waste management being devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Gibraltar does not have a civil nuclear sector though they have transposed the relevant legislation into law. Gibraltar is responsible for radioactive waste management which is restricted to low level materials such as those used in the medical profession and sealedsources used for non-destructive testing.

IAEA safeguards obligations do not for the most part extend to Gibraltar, the Crown Dependencies or overseas territories (certain aspects of the Additional Protocol could theoretically apply however); Euratom safeguards obligations do in principle extend to Gibraltar, the Crown Dependencies and the overseas territories (though we understand that no material that would be subject to Euratom safeguards is in fact held in any of these jurisdictions).


Alternative Frameworks (UK Government Report)